In a crowded year for documentaries, “You Cannot Kill David Arquette” stands apart from the rest. And that’s because it may just be more mockumentary than anything else.
The set-up is certainly true. In 2018, actor David Arquette, best known for the “Scream” films and his former marriage to Courtney Cox, was looking to make a comeback. Comeback narrative films and docs are common. Many involve athletes. What Arquette did is take that concept and apply it to his life — and his passion for pro-wrestling.
20 years ago, to promote his movie “Ready to Rumble”, Arquette stepped into the ring and almost instantly became the WCW heavyweight champion. This marketing ploy made millions of diehard wrestling fans very unhappy. He became despised as an unworthy outsider who didn’t deserve the belt. And his acting career took a hit as well.
18 years later, unable to get work in Hollywood and ostracized by the “sport” he loves, Arquette begins a quest to redeem himself in the ring. And, what the heck, let’s make a movie about it!
“You Cannot Kill David Arquette” gets its name from the reality that Arquette has been knocked around physically and professionally throughout his life. He’s nearly died both inside and outside the ropes. But he’s not giving up. And we have a ringside seat.
Over the first half hour all aspects of the actor’s messed-up life are on full display. He’s clearly down for the count. Some scenes are so disturbing you can’t help but wonder if any of this narrative is legit.
Then the “comeback tour” begins. Arquette starts at the bottom, wrestling in backyards and small clubs. Directors David Darg and Price James follow his every move. And a lot of it is not pretty. The then 46-year-old deserves a lot of credit for not only orchestrating this redemption story to get back into spotlight, but for putting in the work to get his body into shape to take the pounding.
Arquette and current wife Christina (who looks a lot like a younger Cox) are producers on “YCKDA”. They, along with everyone involved with this doc, knew exactly what they were making. The film’s unique blend of staging and authenticity is highly entertaining.
James Corden is known for his crosswalk musicals skits. How about wrestling while cars are waiting at red lights?! This actually takes place on streets in Mexico, and makes for a wild sequence. If any movie needed stuntmen this is it. However, Arquette and his fellow grapplers do all their own action scenes. And while the film doesn’t shy away from the fact that pro-wrestling is fake — the blood and bruises are very real.
The laugh-out-loud moments are refreshing. The editing and music choices add to the vibe of pure insanity. “You Cannot Kill David Arquette” may be completely orchestrated, but boy is it enjoyable.
LCJ GRADE: B+
Running Time: 90 min.